This October marks the fourth annual National Cider Month, founded by Pacific Northwest-based Schilling Cider, to celebrate the apple-centric hard beverage and elevate the cider industry as a whole. Aligning National Cider Month with the harvest season makes this month-long celebration the perfect opportunity to pay homage to the craftsmanship and tradition of cider making and explore the diverse and rich flavor profiles of today’s hard cider.
Cider makers and retailers around the country are participating in this spirited occasion, hosting events and tastings that provide an immersive experience into the world of cider.
“Cider is a beautifully crafted, versatile beverage with a lot of history – it’s the perfect alcoholic option people are looking for, but they just may not know it yet,” said Mary Guiver, Principal Category Merchant at Whole Foods Market. “At Whole Foods Market, we’re excited to celebrate National Cider Month and highlight this dynamic beverage with many of the hundreds of local cider makers we carry in our stores throughout the country.”
Schilling Cider, a Washington-based company, sets a positive example for the hard cider industry by prioritizing environmental sustainability, employee well-being, product innovation, and quality improvement. They have deep relationships with the cider community nationwide, collaborate closely with PNW farmers who grow 80% of the U.S.’s fresh apples, and are dedicated to introducing PNW flavors to the nation through world-class ciders.
Schilling’s partnership with cideries and retailers across the U.S. expands the National Cider Month celebration beyond the PNW – shining a light on local cideries and lifting the entire industry.
“Dedicating a month to cider means paying homage to the farmers and growers that provide us all with fresh fruit to use in our beverages. Being on the shelf with Schilling at Whole Foods Market during this pivotal month means sharing space with a like-minded company that puts quality and innovation at the forefront,” shared Chelsea Cox, VP of Marketing at Blake’s Hard Cider. “We see ourselves as stewards of the category in the Midwest and beyond and couldn’t be more thrilled for the opportunity to raise awareness with Schilling. Hard Cider is having a moment and with consumers choosing flavor and quality as a top purchasing driver, this positions all craft cider brands to flourish and ultimately help expand the cider season.”
What is the case for ciders in this market right now?
National Cider Month is perfectly timed with an uptick in cider consumption, according to recent Beer Purchaser Index reports, the ciders are on a bit of an uptick — especially regionals.
“Regional cider is thriving,” says Schilling Cider’s Co-Founder and CEO Colin Schilling. “In fact, the BPI would likely be over 50 if you removed national cider brands which continue to decline in market share. Craft cider brands now make up over 50% of total cider sales and are growing strongly with Schilling continuing to lead the pack!”
What are some notable innovations in the cider category these days?
“Cider growth continues to be driven by the imperial category, which Schilling first put on the map with Excelsior Imperial Apple – the first 6-pack imperial cider in the U.S.,” Colin tells us — and we can attest that it is the freaking truth. “That being said, all craft cider is well positioned for growth as it checks all the boxes consumers are looking for right now – full flavor, fruit, beyond beer, with an authentic craft story and ingredients people recognize.”
Is it fair to say that cider has a solid “floor”? That it is steady and less prone to the boom or bust cycles we are seeing in craft beer, seltzers and RTDs?
“Schilling and a lot of regional craft cider brands have been putting up double-digit growth consistently for a decade now,” Colin says. “I think we as a small group will continue to do that. I think our category continues to be slept on even though cider has such a rich history in America and is at the perfect intersection of what consumers are seeking out. If you are looking for the next big thing – it’s craft cider!”
This year, celebrate National Cider Month by:
- Sipping from local cideries – Schilling’s Chaider, Local Legend and Excelsior Imperial Apple, Blake’s Hard Cider’s Caramel Apple and many more are fall favorites
- Diving into Cider Making 101
- Participating in various events at your local cidery taproom
- Supporting farmers and local apple orchards
“As an industry leader, Schilling Cider believes shifting norms and partnering with cideries and retailers around the nation is the key to inspiring broader change and continuing to evolve consumers’ ideas of hard cider,” Colin says. “We are committed to running Schilling – from orchard to can – as sustainably and responsibly as possible while seeking to inspire, celebrate and uplift other cideries and the beloved tradition of cider-making through ongoing and annual initiatives like National Cider Month.”